Just as things looked like they may be heading in the right direction for the Red Sox pitchers, they had another setback on Sunday afternoon against the Royals.
Nate Eovaldi came in playing well, earning the win in three of his last five starts and pitching a strong 6⅔ innings against the Blue Jays last Monday, striking out four and allowing no runs.
It was a different story Sunday, as Eovaldi was pulled after just four innings of an eventual 7-3 loss in Kansas City. He allowed seven hits, four runs (three earned), and struck out four in his shortest outing of the season.
While Eovaldi struggled, the Sox’ defense didn’t do him any favors.
“I thought Nate was good. I thought our defense was horrible,” manager Alex Cora said. “Defensively, we didn’t help him. We still had a chance to win the ballgame, but our defense wasn’t good enough, and that put us in a bad spot.”
In the bottom of the second with two on, two outs, and the Red Sox leading, 2-0, Royals center fielder Michael A. Taylor hit a ground ball to first baseman Bobby Dalbec which looked like an easy out. Dalbec struggled to control the ball, however, and Adalberto Mondesi scored on Dalbec’s sixth error of the season.
Eovaldi also had a defensive struggle of his own in the third, turning a potential double-play grounder by Carlos Santana into just one out when he struggled to secure the ball.
“I kind of took my eye off it too soon, and it hit off the tip of my glove,” he said. “In that situation, that’s a routine double-play ball, and I got to be able to make that double play.”
“Defensively, we didn’t help him, but he didn’t help himself; he’ll tell you that,” Cora said.
Two batters later, Mondesi hit a shot to Christian Arroyo in right field, but the ball bounced off Arroyo’s leg and was ruled a ground-rule double.
“Christian makes those plays. That’s a double play, too,” Cora said. “When you give any lineup more than 27 outs, they’re going to make you pay.”
Later in the third, with two outs and the game tied, Jarrod Dyson hit a two-run double to left-center field. Kansas City took the lead, and never gave it back.
“I felt like he put together a really good at-bat. He fouled off some good pitches — you just tip your hat,” Eovaldi said.
Eovaldi allowed two hits and no runs in the fourth, and ended his day with 87 pitches.
“Anytime on a hot day that you leave your defense out there, it’s not a good combination,” he said. “On those hot days, you got to do a better job at getting those guys in the dugout so they can get a quality at-bat, and I feel like we were on the reverse side of things. I kept putting long at-bats on the plate, which was leaving our defense out there. It was a tough combination.”
Kris Rhim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.